On June 2, Dundalk resident Donne Melton participated in The National Kidney Foundation Serving Maryland and Delaware’s 9th annual Rappel for Kidney Health.
“I will be rappelling off of a 38-story building,” Melton told the Eagle before the event.
For Melton, the cause is personal.
At 26, he began to feel unbearable symptoms like fatigue.
After a visit to Johns Hopkins University, doctors discovered blood in Melton’s urine.
Once doctors did more investigating, they noticed his kidney creatine was elevated, leading them to diagnose Melton with kidney disease.
“When I found out I had kidney disease, my whole life changed,” Melton said.
A biopsy showed dead scar tissues and that Melton’s kidney was only working at 50 percent.
“I was told that I could live with that, but it was beyond repair,” Melton said.
Eight years later, Melton began to have shortness of breath and similar symptoms he suffered years ago.
Melton’s mother took him to Franklin Square Hospital, where they discovered his kidney was only operating at 20 percent.
After being evaluated for a week, doctors determined that he needed to go on dialysis.
Feeling discouraged, Melton called his parents for advice; they said he needed to accept the dialysis treatment.
Before starting dialysis, Melton underwent surgery where they placed a catheter into his chest and a dialysis fistula into his left arm.
As Melton advanced in treatment, he had to take 15 to 20 pills, twice a day.
Melton stopped working.
“When you’re on dialysis, there’s a lot that you can’t do,” Melton said. “It’s like a job,” he added.
Melton woke up every day at 5:15 am to make it to his appointments for six years.
“I couldn’t travel like I use to. I had to close my cleaning business and put my entertainment company on hold because I didn’t have the energy, or the mind set to keep it going.” Melton said.
Eventually, Melton registered to be on the kidney donor list at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Georgetown University Hospital.
To get on both lists, he had to get evaluated, take a classes about getting a transplant and then make sure his blood work and weight were at a certain level.
For every transplant list that Melton wanted to be on, he had to go through that process.
He was on the Johns Hopkins Hospital list for three years and the Georgetown University Hospital list for three months.
Unexpectedly, Georgetown University Hospital called him saying they found a match for a kidney transplant.
It took him two to three hours to get there after the call.
Doctors performed the transplant, and it was successful.
According to Melton, even though he is no longer on dialysis, he still has to take 10 to 15 pills twice a day to make sure his levels are normal, but it was worth it.
“My advice to anyone who is facing a difficult health situation is to collect all the information that is needed, get support from your loved ones and take action to save your life,” Melton said.
This is Melton’s first time rappelling, although he was scared he knows it is for a good cause.
For more on the National Kidney Foundation, visit https://www.kidneymd.org/.